The structural basis to salvinorin A recognition of the κ-opioid receptor is evaluated using a combination of site-directed mutagenesis and molecular-modeling techniques. The results show that salvinorin A recognizes a collection of residues in transmembrane II and VII, including Q115, Y119, Y313, I316, and Y320. The mutation of one hydrophobic residue in particular, I316, was found to completely abolish salvinorin A binding. As expected, none of the residues in transmembrane III or VI commonly associated with opiate recognition (such as D138 or E297) appear to be required for ligand binding. On the basis of the results presented here and elsewhere, a binding site model is proposed that aligns salvinorin A vertically within a pocket spanning transmembrane II and VII, with the 2′ substituent directed toward the extracellular domains. The model explains the role that hydrophobic contacts play in binding this lipophilic ligand and gives insight into the structural basis to the μ-opioid receptor selectivity of 2′-benzoyl salvinorin (herkinorin).